Pigeons trade efficiency for stability in response to level of challenge during confined flight
Williams, C. David
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CitationWilliams, C. David, and Andrew A. Biewener. 2015. “Pigeons Trade Efficiency for Stability in Response to Level of Challenge During Confined Flight.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (March 2): 201407298. doi:10.1073/pnas.1407298112.
AbstractIndividuals traversing challenging obstacles are faced with a decision: they can adopt traversal strategies that minimally disrupt their normal locomotion patterns or they can adopt strategies that substantially alter their gait, conferring new advantages and disadvantages. We flew pigeons (Columba livia) through an array of vertical obstacles in a flight arena, presenting them with this choice. The pigeons selected either a strategy involving only a slight pause in the normal wingbeat cycle, or a wings folded posture granting reduced efficiency but greater stability should a misjudgment lead to collision. The more stable but less efficient flight strategy was not employed to traverse easy obstacles with wide gaps for passage, but came to dominate the postures used as obstacle challenge increased with narrower gaps and there was a greater chance of a collision. These results indicate that birds weigh potential obstacle negotiation strategies and estimate task difficulty during locomotor pattern selection.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:14117005
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